Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies


 
Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam
Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam
Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam
Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam
Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam
Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam
Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam

Hi! I am writing this to you from a cute little coffee shop up in Rhinebeck - a few friends and I have escaped for a little mid-week work holiday. For some reason getting work done while you’re tucked away in a little air bnb (we got one with a pool, it is dope) is so much more satisfying than working at home. Don’t get me wrong, I love both, but it’s real cute up here.

I made these just before we left for Canada as a way to use up a couple of things in my fridge - a brick of cream cheese, and half a jar of jam. I had some pie dough in the freezer, so I whipped up these little hand pies, and ohhhh man. I used the cream cheese to act as a bit of a dam to hold in the filling, and the combination of vanilla bean flavoured cream cheese, and sweet mixed berry jam filling is just so good. I didn’t add any additional sugar to the cream cheese, and the super flaky pie dough isn’t sweet, so the jam centre is so, so good against the slightly tangy cream cheese. These are crazy easy to make - they have serious pop tart vibes, and can very easily be scaled up to make a bunch. You could also do them as little circle hand pies rather than the rectangles, and another great thing about them is that you can freeze them ahead of time, store them in an airtight container in your freezer, and bake them off as you need.

Use whatever flavour of jam you like in these - I used mixed berry, but they would also be so, so good with a stone fruit jam or anything berry. You could also use a store bought puff pastry - this is a choose your own adventure here, you can make as many or as few components as you like.

A few wee tips:

  • A pie dough trick I learnt from my friend Erin that is now firmly in my repertoire : After you mix the dough and shape it into discs, rest it in the fridge for about an hour, and then roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle, fold it in thirds like a letter, then roll again and repeat the folding. Then you shape it into a disc by folding the edges under, rewrap tightly in plastic, and rest for at least two hours before using. What this step does is make the dough homogenous and therefore easy to work with, but also adds layers through the rolling and folding - the same way puff pastry is laminated. It is definitely an optional step but from my experience it makes the world of difference when it comes to rolling out the dough and getting a nice even crimp or lattice work.

  • These come out of the oven HOT. Like, take skin off the inside of your mouth hot. Make sure you let them cool down before you eat it. You’ve been warned.

  • I used homemade jam to make these because I had it on hand, but store bought is great too!

  • I added a couple of flowers I cut out from some excess pie dough. To make these I like to roll out the scrap dough and freeze briefly on a baking sheet, then cut out the shapes with pastry stamps - I have these and love them!

 

 

Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies

- Makes about 9 hand pies -

Pie Dough
375g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
Pinch of Salt
2 tsp (8g) sugar
225g (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
240g (1 cup) cold water
1 cup ice
60g (1/4 cup) Apple cider vinegar
Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water

Filling
225g full fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup mixed berry jam or jam of your choice (I used this recipe)

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Turbinado (raw) sugar to finish

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only large pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 8-10 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into two rectangles, and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.  (See notes for rolling out dough during resting period)

 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and vanilla bean paste. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough into a large rectangle. If you are worried about it getting too warm and soft, you can cut it in half and do this in two parts. Using a ruler and a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut the pastry into 3" x 4" rectangles (7cm x 10cm). You should get approximately 18 rectangles. Place the cut rectangles carefully onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and refrigerate for 10 mins to help firm up the pastry slightly. 

Remove the pastry rectangles from the fridge and match up into pairs. Lightly brush the edges of one piece of pastry with egg wash, then pipe a rectangle of the cream cheese mixture, and fill the centre with two teaspoons of jam. Top with a second piece of pastry, pressing down lightly around the edges to seal, ensuring that there are no air bubbles. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, then use the tines of a fork to press down around the edges to help seal. Repeat with the remaining rectangles of pastry until all the hand pies are assembled. Add decorations using pie stamps by stamping out rolled out scrap pastry.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 30-40 minutes, or until the dough becomes very firm. If you are planning on freezing them for a longer period of time, freeze solid then transfer to an airtight plastic bag. 

While the pies are in the freezer, preheat the oven to 425°f / 220°c. Remove the pies from the freezer. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross in the top of each pie, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with additional raw sugar. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the pies are deeply golden brown and the juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers wrapped in foil at room temperature. Reheat in the oven to help keep the pastry crispy. 

Mixed Berry and Cream Cheese Hand Pies - an easy flaky pie dough encases a mixed berry and vanilla bean cream cheese filling. These miniature pies are perfect for using up surplus cream cheese or jam that you may have, or for making use of slightly sad or tired berries. #handpies #easyhandpies #mixedberryjam

The Ultimate Easter Treat Box


 
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking
The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking

Thank you so much to ALDI for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own - thank you for supporting the businesses that keep Cloudy Kitchen going!

I’m not sure how, but it’s suddenly almost Easter. Which makes me so excited for a few reasons - the weather should finally warm up, I love Easter Eggs (I always get Mum to send me some from home), but most of all - Easter baking is so, so much fun! I love how many different treats can be made to incorporate Easter and Spring flavours, and pastel coloured anything is always going to be a winner in my books.

I figured the best way to kick off the Easter Baking season was with a treat box! These are super fun to make, and make incredible gifts. I have partnered with ALDI for this treat box - showing off some of their baking staples. Their products are incredibly well priced (something that is super hard to come by in NYC!!), and are great quality. They are definitely my go-to for stocking up on basics such as their Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar, and Baker’s Corner All-Purpose Flour. Also - I’m not sure if it’s just me (it most likely is just me), but I get a huge kick out of going to new supermarkets and looking at all the new and different things that they have! If you have an ALDI I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already!

I wanted to make a variety of treats for this box to show how easy and fun they are to put together - I like making a couple of time intensive recipes that can easily be doubled (such as the macarons and hand pies), and then pairing them with some easy to make treats (Cardamom Linzers, Marshmallows, and Brown Butter Crispy Rice Bars), and then rounding it out with some store bought items - this time I chose to use a bunch of Moser Roth and Choceur Easter Eggs from ALDI (which are available Starting the 27th of March). I also like using recipes that can be used in a few applications - for example I made one batch of the Cardamom Linzer dough, and filled some with Jam, and iced others with some Royal icing to provide a variation in designs. Adding in the Easter eggs was the perfect finishing touch - not only are they super delicious, but they are crazy cute and really help with driving the Easter theme home! This treat box would make a great Easter gift, or as something to take along to an event or Easter brunch - either one or two batches of the recipes that I have included here would be great for making 7-8 boxes for family and friends.

A few wee tips:

  • I find that prep is key for these! The day before I put these together, I made the cookies for the Linzers and iced Cookies, made the Crispy Rice Treat bars, made the shells for the macarons, made the dough for the and pies, covered some of the cardamom cookies in royal icing, and made the marshmallows. That meant that on the day of assembly, I just had to bake off the hand pies, fill the macarons, fill the linzers, and cut shapes from the marshmallows. Breaking up the jobs like this really helped to keep on top of things.

  • You can use whatever box you like! I used a wooden box and made some dividers from craft wood, but I have seen them done in cardboard boxes using dividers or even cupcake liners to pop the treats in.

  • Don’t feel like you have to make everything in a treat box! Even just one homemade cookie with a bunch of Easter eggs is perfect - you do you here. ALDI has an amazing range of Easter goodies that would go great in your box. I used the Choceur Milk Chocolate Hollow Eggs, the Choceur Hollow Mini Bunnies, the Moser Roth Mini Truffle Easter Eggs in Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut, and the Choceur Solid Milk Chocolate Eggs.

 

 

Cardamom Linzer Cookies

- Makes about 32 Cookies -

Prep time: 20 minutes, plus chill time
Bake time: 30-40 minutes total (8-10 minutes per tray)

Note - I cut a couple of the cookies using a larger egg cutter, and iced them with royal icing, just as a fun little visual variation for the box! I have included my royal icing recipe and directions below.

Cardamom Linzer Dough
170g Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
150g sugar
50g brown sugar
1 Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Egg, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
310g Baker’s Corner All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Filling
Jam or Preserves of choice (I used the Award Winning Specially Selected Blackberry Fruit Spread)

To Finish
Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar, for dusting

Royal Icing Detailing (optional)
1/4 cup (60g) water
15g (1 Tbsp) meringue powder
340g (2 3/4 cups) Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

 

- PROCESS -

CARDAMOM COOKIES

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium high speed until pale, 3-4 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine, scraping down the edges as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cardamom. Add to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and gently bring together with your hands. Form into a rectangle, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for approximately an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°f /180°c. Line 3-4 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into two. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place between two large pieces of parchment paper, and roll to approximately 1/4” (7mm) thickness. Transfer, still covered in the parchment, to a baking sheet, and place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the dough to firm. Repeat with the second portion of dough.

Remove one sheet from the freezer, and peel off the Top sheet of the parchment paper. Using a cutter of your desired size (I used an egg cutter that was 2” in height), cut out shapes from your dough. Place on the lined baking sheets, leaving a little room in between. If the dough starts to soften, return to the freezer to firm up. Repeat until all the dough has been used up.

Place the cut out cookies in the freezer for 10 minutes, then, using a small shaped cutter (I used a small egg cutter), cut out a hole in the middle of half of the cookies. Repeat the rolling and cutting process while the first sheet is baking. You may end up with 3-4 baking sheets worth of cookies - store any cookies that aren’t being baked in the freezer while they are waiting to be baked off.

Bake each sheet one at a time for 8-9 minutes, until the edges are set. You may need to increase the baking time if your cookies are slightly larger.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Repeat the baking process with the remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container until you are ready to assemble.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Pair up the cookies so each has a solid half, and half with a cut-out. Place the cut-out pieces on a wire rack, and, if desired, dust generously with powdered sugar. Place all the solid halves smooth side down (so the side that was against the baking sheet is facing up), then, using either a spoon or a piping bag, place about 1 tsp of jam on each cookie. Top with a cut-out half. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container - these are best served on the day they are assembled, but you can store the components separately for several days.

ROYAL ICING

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the water and meringue powder. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and then mix on low for 8-10 minutes. The mixture will become very thick.

Transfer about half of the icing to a small bowl, and place the rest in a small container with plastic wrap pressed against the surface. Thin down the icing with more water, adding a teaspoon at a time until it is a pipe-able consistency. Transfer to a small piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a border around the edge of each cookie, then fill in by piping icing within the border. Smooth down with a skewer. Repeat on as many cookies as desired. Allow to dry for at least a few hours before you pipe on detail.

To pipe on the detail, thin down the remaining icing, and colour as desired. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip, and pipe designs onto the cookies. Allow to dry before eating.

Store cookies in an airtight container.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

- Makes one 9” x 13” pan of marshmallow -

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus 3-4 hours for marshmallows to cure

Note - I repeated the recipe twice to give me pink and yellow marshmallows. The thing I love about homemade marshmallows is that they last a super long time - just keep them in an airtight container. I cut mine out using Easter shaped cutters, but cutting into squares with a sharp knife works just as well too - just be sure to dust either the knife or your cutter in the marshmallow dust to make sure that it doesn’t stick.

Marshmallow Dust
35g (1/4 cup) Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
35g (1/4 cup) corn starch

Vanilla Marshmallows
Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter for greasing pan.
75g cold water
14g (2 sachets) powdered gelatin
75g cold water
270g sugar
105 g light corn syrup
1 tablespoon (18g) vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
Gel food colouring as desired (optional)

 

- PROCESS -

MARSHMALLOW DUST

Sift together the powdered sugar and corn starch. Set aside - this will be used to dust the pan.

VANILLA BEAN MARSHMALLOWS

Grease a 9” x 13” quarter sheet pan with butter, and dust with marshmallow dust. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 75 grams water with the powdered gelatin. Combine well and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

In a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan, heat the second measure of water, granulated sugar, light corn syrup, and vanilla bean paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer registers 240˚f (116˚c). Remove from the heat, and allow to cool to 210˚f (99˚c).

Turn the mixer to medium speed, and allow it to break up the gelatin slightly. Carefully stream in the sugar syrup mixture. Increase the speed to high, and beat until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, holds a small peak, and is fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Add food colouring if desired. Working quickly, scrape into the prepared pan, and smooth down with a lightly oiled offset spatula. Dust with additional marshmallow dust, and allow to cure for at least 3 hours.

Dust a work surface with marshmallow dust, and turn the marshmallow onto it. Using an Easter cutter of your desired size, cut out marshmallows, dusting the cutter with marshmallow dust as needed. I used egg cutters and a chick cutter.

Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

 

 

Macarons with Dark Chocolate Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream

- Makes about 24 macarons -

Prep time: 45 minutes, plus time for macarons to dry
Bake time: 30 minutes

Note - After mixing in the powdered sugar and almond flour mixture into the meringue, I divided the mixture into three, and coloured each individually, then continued to mix until they were the correct consistency. This is an easy way to make several colours from one batch of batter. I also added some ‘speckles’ by flicking on some black gel food colouring diluted with water using a paintbrush after they had baked.

Macaron Shells
170g Baker’s Corner Almond Flour
300g Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
180g Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Egg whites, at room temperature
160g sugar
Gel food colour as desired
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Mint Chocolate Chip Swiss Meringue Buttercream
65g egg whites, or 2 large egg whites - I used Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Eggs
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
225g (8oz, or two sticks) Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla
125g dark chocolate
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

 

- PROCESS -

MACARON SHELLS

Preheat oven to 300˚f / 150˚c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about 3/4" between each circle. 

Combine the almond flour and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Sift the mixture twice, to ensure there are no large lumps and that the mixture is properly aerated. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Add gel food colour if desired. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the almond flour and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and almond flour mixture.

Add the remaining almond flour mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much). This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.

Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an Ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.

Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly. 

Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth.

Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity. 

About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven. 

Bake for approximately 18 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that! 

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.

If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper. 

Store shells in an airtight container until ready to fill. These can be made 2-3 days in advance, provided they are stored in an airtight container.

DARK CHOCOLATE MINT SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM

Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until the mixture has begun to cool slightly and the egg whites are white and fluffy and hold a stiff peak, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

While the buttercream is mixing, melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl in 30 second increments in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly. 

Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add in the cooled chocolate, and peppermint extract. Mix for a further 2-3 minutes, then switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low for one minute to remove any air. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip.

ASSEMBLY

Pair up each macaron shell with another of equal size. Pipe a blob of buttercream on one side of the pair, and gently press the second half on to adhere. Macarons can be eaten immediately, but are best after a night in the fridge in an airtight container to let the flavours meld.

 

 

Brown Butter Crispy Rice Treat Bars

- Makes one 9”x9” pan of bars -

Prep time: 15 Minutes, Plus time for the bars to set

115g (one stick) Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter
285g (one 10oz bag) marshmallows
175g Millville Crispy Rice cereal
Flaky sea salt, to finish
Sprinkles of your choice, to finish

- PROCESS -

Grease a 9”x9” pan with butter (I used the Crofton Speckled Bakeware Pan from ALDI, available starting March 27th).

Place the Crispy Rice cereal in a large bowl. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, place the butter over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the butter melts, and then continue to cook, stirring well, until the butter begins to go brown and smell toasty. Remove the butter from the heat, and add the marshmallows and vanilla, stirring well. Leave to sit for 1-2 minutes to help the butter melt the marshmallows, then stir until the marshmallows are melted and the mixture is well combined.

Pour the marshmallow mixture over the Crispy Rice cereal, and mix well until well combined. It may seem sticky, but make sure that you keep mixing to make sure all of the cereal is evenly coated.

Transfer to the greased pan, and press down with a spoon or wet fingers. Sprinkle with sprinkles and flaky sea salt, then leave to cool and set before slicing into bars. Store in an airtight container

 

 

Mini Jam Hand Pies

- Makes about 20 Hand Pies -

Prep time: 45 minutes, plus overnight rest for the dough and chilling time for the hand pies
Bake time: 25 minutes

Note - You can fill these with whatever you like! I used the Specially Selected Fruit Spread from ALDI in Blackberry, Strawberry and Raspberry. You can mix and match the fillings - using a premade jam makes these super quick and easy, and they are so good! They are also great to make ahead and store in the freezer - make them up to the point where you freeze them solid, then transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until you are ready to bake!

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups (310g) Baker’s Corner All-Purpose Flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp (8g) sugar
2 sticks (226g) Countryside Creamery Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar

Filling
Fruit Spread or Jam of your choice

Egg wash - one Simply Nature Grade A Organic Cage Free Brown Egg, whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Turbinado or raw sugar to finish, optional

 

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 8-10 tbsp.) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into two rectangles, and wrap in plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight. 

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

On a lightly floured surface, working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a rough rectangle, with a dough thickness of approximately 1/8”. Using a circle cutter (I used a 2 3/4” cutter), cut circles of dough, and place onto a lined baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of pie dough, until you have used it all. Scraps can be gently pressed back together and wrapped in plastic, then re-rolled and used for extra circles. Store cut circles in the fridge while you finish rolling out the dough.

Once you have cut out your circles, combine the egg wash in a small bowl. Working with two circles at a time (otherwise the egg wash tends to dry out and not stick), paint two of the circles with egg wash. Place a small teaspoon of jam filling in the centre of one circle, then place the second circle, egg wash side down, on top, making sure to press out any air.

Lightly seal the hand pie with your fingers, then transfer to a lined baking sheet and crimp the edges with a fork (do not crimp the edges on your work surface or it makes the hand pie very hard to move).

Repeat with the remaining circles, until you have made all of your hand pies. If you would like to add cut-outs, you can roll together some scraps, briefly freeze the rolled out dough, and then use pie stamps to stamp out the dough. Adhere to the hand pies with egg wash.

Place the baking sheet with the hand pies in the freezer, and freeze for 20-30 minutes, or until completely solid. While the pies are in the freezer, preheat the oven to 425°f / 220°c.

Create air holes in the top of the pies using a fork, to allow steam to escape while baking. Brush the hand pies all over with egg wash, and then sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake the hand pies for 20-25 minutes, until deeply golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature - store leftovers in foil, and reheat in the oven to re-crisp the pastry.

The Ultimate Easter treat box - iced cookies, cardamom linzers, hand pies, macarons, crispy rice treats and Easter mallows make the most amazing treat box, and are complimented perfectly by super cute foil wrapped chocolate eggs. This box would make the most perfect Easter gift, or the components are perfect alone for Easter treats. #easterbox #cookiebox #easterbaking

Thank you so much to ALDI for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.

Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies


 
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies
Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies

Are you a pie crust, or a pie filling person? I am a big fan of a well-filled pie. A solid amount of fruit with each bite. Richard on the other hand, is squarely in the crust camp. His favourite pies of mine are the ones with intricate lattices (and therefore more crust), or individual pies. The heavier the sugar coating on the top, the better. 

That is, until I made hand pies. A great measure of how much Rich likes something is how fast it disappears. If it's earl grey flavoured he won't touch it, if it's chocolate chip cookies he will make them himself off the blog if they aren't already in the house. Zucchini and banana bread last less than a day. If only I had his metabolism. Life isn't fair sometimes. Pie he is a bit take it or leave it on, but these bad boys disappeared REAL quick - to the extent that I had to hide some to take to a friend the next day. 

We have just started getting fruit from our CSA over the last few weeks. It's been mainly blueberries and sour cherries. This was my first time baking with sour cherries - they are yet another thing we don't really get in New Zealand. I was a little skeptical at first because these ones in particular were VERY sour, but they baked down and gave the filling a lovely brightness, requiring much less sugar than I thought! Much to Richard's delight, these were a little heavier on the crust than most hand pies, because I used a rectangle of dough, then added a lattice on top, unlike the folded over or pocket form that pies usually take. I held back on the filling a little to reduce leakage (they still leaked a little bit, but it was worth it for the pretty lattice!) The blueberries paired beautifully with the sour cherry. I also had some rhubarb in the fridge (I can't resist buying it whenever I see it), so I filled half of them with rhubarb and blueberry. This might be my new favourite way to use up summer fruit - they were a huge hit with everyone who tried them! 

A few wee notes:

  • I didn't purposefully leave the sugar off half of the pies - I just forgot to add it after I egg washed. They are definitely better with a sugary crust, but it was a quick and easy way to tell apart the two flavours!

  • A good cherry pitter is your friend - I use this one, and it's the best ever.

  • I used tapioca starch to thicken the filling for these. It works really well for pies that have a juicy filling. You can substitute corn starch in a pinch, but if you make pie often it's really worth picking some up - it will last forever, and is a little less gummy than corn starch or arrowroot.

  • Halve the recipe if you only want 7 pies - one batch of dough, and one of the fillings. Once you're on a roll though, it's easy to make lots.

  • If you don't want to muck around with the lattice on the top, just cut out 14 pieces of pastry, and make plain hand pies - place the lid on, seal with a little water, and press down with your fingers.

  • Fill these with whatever you like! This is just a guide really - I used what we happened to have on hand. You can just all cherries, all blueberries, etc. Just taste your fruit, and adjust the sugar as needed.

  • The lattice top is very much a quide. Go nuts and make them however you like - re roll scraps to make extra lattice if needed. I did a huge range just to see how they all looked!

 

 

Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and Rhubarb hand pies.
- Makes 14 9"x11" hand pies -

Pie crust recipe from four and twenty blackbirds

Pie dough
5 cups cups (620g) Flour
Pinch of Salt
4 tsp (16g) sugar
4 sticks (452g) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup (240ml) cold water
1 cup ice
1/4 cup (60ml) Apple cider vinegar

Sour cherry and blueberry filling
150g (5.3oz) sour cherries, pitted
150g (5.3oz) fresh blueberries
1/3 cup (65g) raw sugar
1 1/2 tbsp tapioca starch

Blueberry and rhubarb filling
150g (5.3oz) fresh blueberries
150g (5.3 oz) rhubarb, chopped into approx 1 cm slices
1/3 cup (65g) raw sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp tapioca starch

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Extra raw sugar for sprinkling

- PROCESS -

PIE DOUGH

Make the pie dough in two batches - use half the dry ingredients and butter for each batch (2 1/2 cups flour, pinch of salt, 2 tsp sugar, and 2 sticks butter), and use the apple cider vinegar ice water for both batches. Place flour, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut butter into chunks, and add to the flour. Toss lightly to coat. Working quickly, using a pastry blender or  your fingers,  cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are only pea-sized chunks left. You want a few lumps of butter remaining to keep the pastry nice and tender.

Combine ice, water and cider vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the ice water into the flour and butter mixture, and using a stiff spatula or your hands, mix in well. Continue adding water a tablespoon at a time ( I normally need about 8-10 tbsp) until you have a dough that holds together well, but is not too wet. Squeeze together with your fingertips to make a homogenous dough. Shape into two rectangles and wrap in plastic wrap. Repeat the process for the second batch. Rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or preferably overnight.

FILLING AND ASSEMBLY

Work with one batch of filling at a time - make all of the hand pies of that flavour, then rest in the fridge while you prepare the next batch of flavour. This reduces the chance of the filling releasing moisture in the bowl, meaning you leave some of the delicious juice behind.

In a medium bowl, toss the cherries and blueberries with the sugar and tapioca starch. Remove two of the rectangles of the dough from the fridge. Roll one rectangle out to 1/4 inch (6mm) thickness. Using a ruler and pastry wheel or sharp knife, cut out 7 rectangles that are 9cm x 11cm (3 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches). Re-roll scraps if necessary to make enough rectangles. Place cut rectangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and rest in the fridge while you roll out the second disc.

Roll out the second rectangle of dough - this is used for the tops of the pies. If you are keeping them plain 'pockets', cut out 7 more rectangles. Otherwise, cut a series of strips in a range of thicknesses to be used for lattices - you can decorate these however you like! I went with a range of lattices, braids, plain tops, and a few cut-outs using pie stamps. 

Working with one pie at a time, place 2 Tbsp filling in the centre of a rectangle. Top with your desired lattice or plain top, pressing down with your fingers to seal, then again using the tines of a fork to seal the lattice to the bottom of the pie. Place the hand pies in the fridge. 

Repeat the process with the blueberry and rhubarb filling, and the second two rectangles of dough. Rest in the fridge. 

While the pies are resting, preheat the oven to 425˚f / 220˚c. Remove the pies from the fridge, brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with raw sugar. 

Bake the pies for 30-40 minutes, checking after about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray or on a wire rack. Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature. 

Sour Cherry, Blueberry, and rhubarb hand pies